Contact Us
City Hall: 751 W. 4th St. | Kuna, Idaho 83634 | Ph: 208-922-5546

Go To Search
Help Center
Click to Home

State of the City
2015

2015

State of the City

Mayor Greg Nelson

February 18, 2015

Our 3rd year review

2014 was the city of Kuna’s 150th Anniversary for it was in 1864 that the 1st stage stop along Indian Creek was built on the Silver Trail, a wagon trail road from Idaho City and Boise to Silver City in Owyhee County.  The Stage Stop was built by Mr. Nelson Records and was characterized as a place to stop, rest, exchange horses and have a good meal next to the waters of Indian Creek.  The Stage Stop had various names attached to it, but was known as 15 Mile station, 15 Mile House or the Records Station. 

Indian Creek was also known as 15 mile Creek but seemed to change names to Indian Creek in the Kuna area as it headed west to the Boise River.  Kuna’s leaders in 1964 picked, as Kuna’s 100th anniversary the date of the Stage Stop construction in 1864, and this date is the recognized date of the beginnings of the city of Kuna.  In August’s gala celebration of Kuna Days and in September with an old fashioned Birthday party, Kuna celebrated our heritage and humble beginnings and welcomed our 2014 achievement of becoming the 14th largest city in Idaho with 16,500+ citizens and a bright future. 

In 2014 we turned our attention to Kuna Youth and declared the year as “The Year of the Kuna Kid”   We hired a recreation director and put summer recreation as a priority and accommodated many kids through our Kuna Ranger program, safety programs, bicycle recycling program, Arbor Day program and expansion of our east greenbelt.  We repainted the Kuna water tower and with the help of the Associated Student Body of Kuna High School we painted a Kavemen Pride “K” on the tower and aimed the letter toward the High School so that the student body would be able to see the “K” from the High School.  Our parks department added a very popular and challenging Frisbee Golf course along the downtown greenbelt and placed identification markers by the greenbelt trees so that visitors will know the names of trees they are enjoying.

We were fortunate to win a Blue Cross foundation “High 5 grant” in the amount of $150,000 and this year began utilizing it to help motivate our children in activities that increase physical fitness as well as make them more aware of the role of good nutrition in keeping healthy.  This grant is a three year grant and has been utilized as seed money in many of our accomplishments involving youth activities in our city. As a matter of fact Chris Engels (our acting City Clerk) has become a terrific grant writer and this past year was instrumental in securing $117,971 more funds in grant money to help the city with aid in numerous improvement projects.

We partnered with “KPAL” (Kuna Police Activity League) in converting Arbor Ridge Park into Soccer Fields and that work is still ongoing in 2015 but promises the addition of one large official field and a number of smaller practice fields in 2015.  Soccer is a growing interest in the community and adding additional fields is a priority.

We also began in earnest the dream to create a Kuna Boys &Girls Club, a YMCA and an indoor swimming pool.  To cross all of the challenges to implement this project took considerable time, but in 2014 the signatures were gathered to put the idea on the May 2015 ballot to create a Kuna Recreation District which will then be followed with a vote on a finance bond to build the complex.  Look for the Recreation complex to be built in 2016.  Originally we had planned to have the Recreation District and Finance Bond at the same election, but were overruled by Ada County, for the District must be established before the bond is passed. 

Community Gardening is still growing and although it took a lot of time to get BOR permits to cross Indian Creek with water and electricity, we are on track to start a big community garden and tree nursery across from Indian Creek School.  In 2014 we again planted the community garden across from city hall and started a garden at Crimson Point elementary.  These gardens are well received by the community and attract a lot of interest from both our youth and adults.  We in addition, helped the Farmers Market move ahead this past year and find our goals of educating our youth in good nutrition are enhanced by the presence of a good Farmers Market.  We intend to expand this program again this year.  With the growth in Ada County, Kuna is now the agricultural center of the county and a natural for the county population to look for fresh production that is available in Kuna’s farmers market.

In cooperation with the Blue Cross Foundation and Boise City Parks we put together a Mayor’s Walking Challenge for our grade schools this year where the school that turned out the most walkers and the school that walked the farthest would each receive $500 to use in purchasing their choice of fitness enhancing equipment. Reed Elementary was the big $500.00 winner and walked over 8,000 miles and both Crimson Point and Silver Trail won $250.00 each for turning out their entire student body to walk the challenge.

Reed Elementary 6th graders decorated downtown and city hall for Christmas and many students participated in the Christmas tree lighting and Christmas Caroling.  This year we expect to expand both events to involve even greater numbers of students. 

As you can see we as a city have, along with our schools and citizens, met our goals of involving our young citizens in meaningful and rewarding programs in our city and occupying some of their pent up energy in fitness activities.  We intend to do more so look for greater involvement this year.

Other achievements this year included a beautiful and inspiring “Come Together Christmas celebration by Kuna’s Community Choir where our citizens gather to Celebrate the Christmas season.  This event is becoming a strong tradition and really does signal Kuna is growing up.  In addition this year was our first Prayer Breakfast where people of faith gathered at Ana’s and Enrique’s Kuna Event Center for a delicious breakfast and to participate in a community blessing.  We expect this gathering to become another Kuna Tradition and this year already has outgrown the Event Center so will probably be held in the old gym site on 4th street.

This year we expanded the economic development committee of the city and chamber and produced literature and contacts to attract business.  We joined the Boise Valley Economic Partnership to become better educated in the role of attracting business and I am proud to announce we are seeing results. We have a new McDonalds that opened as well as working on a $100,000,000 Simplot packing plant and a number of other businesses and manufacturers that are currently planning on locating here. Watch for upcoming announcements  -- We think you will all be surprised.

We redesigned and upgraded Kuna’s website this year to better reach our citizens with news and happenings in the city.  The website is becoming more popular each month and is utilized by our citizens as a vital source of information and events occurring in our city.  Our city website address is kunacity.id.gov

This year Ada County Highway District was a great help to us.  The new SW entrance into the city is wider, safer, much more attractive and a nice and popular addition and ACHD was a great and appreciated leader in getting this project accomplished.   In addition, ACHD worked on bike paths and seal coated most of the roads in the city.  Signs were erected that tell visitors  just where they are and the mileage to other attractions in the city and ACHD helped pick Swan Falls crossing as the site of Kuna’s overpass.  This project is still chasing funding, but at least the site is picked so we can get on with funding.  You who live south of the tracks now have a glimmer of hope for better connectivity and much faster emergency service.

This year we installed about $500,000 in new screens to further protect our membrane filters at the new Sewage plant.  This state of the art plant handles effluent rather efficiently and is precipitating out phosphorus, making it one of the few plants in Idaho capable of meeting the Phosphorus standard imposed by EPA.  Our next step is to secure a permit to utilize this plant water back into the city’s pressurized irrigation system to help prepare us for using less water and surviving drought conditions better.  In addition, this past year we added well #10 to augment the city drinking water supply and are reexamining well # 3 to put its water in the pressurized irrigation system and digging a new well #11 to put into the city’s drinking water inventory.  This is scheduled for completion in 2015.

In 2014 we also began the process to convert the city’s lights to LED lighting and eventually change lighting ordinances throughout the city.  Look for some new and less expensive innovation in energy usage in Kuna.  Bob Bachman has been picked as our Conservation director and will lead our efforts in reducing energy costs in the city.

Idaho Power in cooperation with the Southwest Idaho RC&D have been furnishing trees for southwest Idaho citizens to plant on their properties to help block the afternoon sun and provide shade and use of less energy to stay cooler in summer. Kuna is participating in the program and many citizens have taken advantage of the program.

We reported last year we were working on a BLM committee to locate the new Gateway West 500 KV transmission line across this area to the Hemingway Station in Owyhee County south and west of Melba.   The site has been selected and is in final scoping hearings and expected to be approved by summer.  The line will parallel the existing 500KV line crossing the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey and cross the Snake River south of Melba so should not adversely affect either Kuna or Melba and is located, “in my estimation” where it belongs. 

Mitigation for this location will include habitat improvement and enhancements which we still have an eye on to involve Kuna youth in learning to grow, plant and care for sagebrush, bitterbrush and rabbit brush in the area south of Kuna, as well as recognize and learn the habits and needs of raptors that make their home in the area.

Budget wise 2014 continued the decrease of the total budget that began after settling the LID lawsuit in FY 2013 and again dropped from $11,965,000 in FY 2013 to $11,656,787 in FY 2014.  The General fund increased from $2,958,809 in FY 2013 to $3,466,720 in FY 2014 a 17.17% increase based mostly on growth in the city.

Full time employees increased from 34.21 to 35.01 in FY 2014, so again we are running the city with considerably fewer employees than many cities our size.

Our police contract remained unchanged this last Fiscal with staffing of 13 officers, one secretary, and 3 associate School Resource officers.  FY 2014 increased $6,193 a 0.4% increase which was primarily  vehicle and operating costs. The total police budget for FY 2014 was $1,525,148. Our new police chief is Justin Dusseau and we are very pleased with his tact and leadership as he directs Kuna police activities.  2014 marked a welcome decrease in drug problems in our city and a drop in most every category of criminal activity. 

This occurred while the city grew with the addition of 364 permits, 116 new homes, 4 new commercial businesses, 3 commercial tenant improvements and over 400 new people.  We are well satisfied with our Ada County Sheriff Contract but continue to watch costs vs results. In addition, this year we will be watching Middleton who has ended their sheriff contract and bravely struck out on their own, to see how they do with costs and accomplishments. 

We continued to use the Ada County Prosecutor to prosecute Kuna Criminal cases, and continue to receive activity reports from the Prosecutor’s Office which really helps us in determining what is occurring in the courts with Kuna offenders.

The Prosecutors contract increased from $48,911 to $53,700 or a 9.8% increase.   We are now under a new Ada County Prosecutor so things may change a bit.   We will watch our costs carefully.  In addition we are revising our ordinances to drop many of our misdemeanors to infractions to relieve the burden on Ada County Courts for many offenses.  Infractions can cost up to $300.00 in fines, so enforcing the laws are still functional.

The city is beginning the process to form an Urban Renewal District that will help take infrastructure to the City’s industrial zone and some additional subdivision sites.  Urban Renewal Districts have proven important links to attracting and supporting new business and manufacturing entities for cities throughout the State.  If Kuna is to economically develop, we need this tool to help us.  Our Urban Renewal will only be utilized for infrastructure so we will not build buildings or city structures to make sure the district is utilized for its intended use.

The Boise – Nampa metropolitan area is now the 85th largest metro area in the United States which is another reason to be proud of Kuna’s growth along with the rest of the valley. In the Pacific Northwest this metro area is the 3rd largest and makes it competitive with a great many larger metros especially in the West and Midwest.   This should continue to help us develop. 

Starting in 2014 we have turned our attention to downtown Kuna to start a revitalization effort with the business community.  We are working with JUB engineers and a dynamic and involved business group to direct this effort.  One of the first things you will notice is the move of the Historical Center to the refurbished old city hall on Main Street.  The move of contents will take place shortly and it should prove popular and help with downtown revitalization.

The city began, with the help of DEQ, offering emission testing of autos at city hall as a temporary solution of not having a station that offers the test in Kuna.    We are proud to announce this year Affordable Transmission & Auto Repair now offers the service in Kuna for $11.00.  No longer will you have to drive to Meridian or Nampa for the test.

Many people have asked why we have not yet moved our utility billing from Caldwell to Kuna.  That move has proven problematic, but in 2015 we expect to overcome the problems and switch the billing.

Currently the city is moving into preliminary design of a busing system that will offer “in city” and “out of city” busing.  We are working closely with Treasure Valley Regional Transit to implement a workable, effective and affordable system.

With the opening of the Boise Downtown Terminal, Kuna should be connected and that is the hope of developing our busing system.  It will be added as we can afford it, but it promises better connectivity for our citizens in the future.

We are still toying with the idea of purchasing the old gym site to locate our city hall.  We think we can locate there at about the same monthly cost we are currently paying for rent.  In addition that site is becoming more the center of downtown Kuna and would anchor parking and busing in the middle of the downtown area.  Stay tuned as we get closer to a decision in this matter.

In closing, 2014 will go down in the history of Kuna as a transition year where we basically pulled out of a 7 year recessionary period.  It was a year where the city and Chamber combined our economic development strategies and got on with recruitment of businesses and industry to build commerce and jobs in the city and surrounding area.  We also implemented an inflation factor to our enterprise funds so that sewer, water and pressurized irrigation rates would increase slightly to cover that year’s inflationary rate.  We also placed Kuna City Staff on a published rate schedule so that raises are based upon standards and longevity that is known, understood and published.  We are proud that our employees now finally have a modern crafted and adopted career path pay scale.

We wish to thank all of our citizens for their strong support, great ideas and enthusiasm as we take our place as a dynamic growing middle sized Idaho city.  The future looks bright as we enter 2015 and we will strive to maintain our small city charm as we push to become an economic, job producing hub of the area.     


2014

2014

State of the City

W. Greg Nelson, Mayor

February 13, 2014

Our 2nd year review

In reviewing 2013 we can report the City is in better shape than the previous year.  Some of the major hurdles we faced have been settled and fiscally the city has improved.  Kuna is not quite back to pre-recession levels, but we are improving.  Our staff is hard working and productive. We are implementing career paths and longevity pay to help our employees plan for their future.

Our most serious and major hurdle was the $36 million lawsuit by Kuna landowners against the Local Improvement District (LID) financing of the Ten Mile Road high-tech Sewer Plant.  This lawsuit was settled in 2013.  The settlement released the financing lien on most of the properties, and in exchange the properties gave sewer hookups belonging to those properties to Key Bank for open sale so the bank may recoup some of its loan losses.   Several properties were sold and the proceeds were given to the bank.  On the other hand, Lands that were not in the lawsuit have been able to purchase sewer hookups for development.   In the end all properties (with the exception of one lot) involved in the LID are cleared from the financing lien, and they have returned to fair market value.  Kuna now owns the Ten Mile Sewer Plant and the city has plenty of sewer capacity to accommodate the city’s needs for the foreseeable future.  Recently the city put out a letter to bankers, brokers, realtors, title companies and others explaining to all that the LID lawsuit was settled. Lands in Kuna have returned to fair-market-value.  Rumors that Kuna lands were still tainted by an LID are not true and construction in our area is a very good investment.  This past year we added 138 homes to our city, which are 36 more new homes than the year before.

Budget wise, this year we decreased the total budget 46.28 % but that was because we had to increase the 2013 budget to include the settlement of the LID lawsuit.  Total 2014 budget is $11,656,787.00 compared to $21,697,599 last year.

The General Fund increased to $3,466,720 from $2,958,809 last year or a 17.17% increase.   Full Time employees increased from 34.21 last year to 35.01 this year, so we continue to run the 14th largest city in Idaho with a staff that is considerably under sized compared to other cities of our population.  All other funds in the city are in good shape and 2014 should be an affordable growth year for the city. 

It appears that the availability of irrigation water could be a major problem for Kuna and in Southwest Idaho in 2014.   This past year we used up Kuna’s water allotment and had to turn off irrigation water on August 22.   This year looks poor at this time and without additional moisture the city will be scrambling to make our irrigation water allotment last through the really hot August season.  Kuna is looking at its available options to increase irrigation water in the city, and will be asking for your help in conserving precious water.  These latest storms are helping.

Another promise to our citizens was to take a look at the police services contract with Ada County.  Our Policing Contract includes staffing of 13 officers, one secretary plus 3 associate School Resource Officers.  This New Year includes a $97,627.00 increase totaling $1,518,954.00 which was primarily salaries or about a 5% increase.  With city employees getting a 2% increase this year, the police services contract increases faster than any of our other city employees.  This inequity leads to comparisons and some employee dissent. Last year the increase was 11.18 % so this year is a little more manageable and not as controversial.  We are pleased with the officers’ assigned to Kuna and are glad to report our crime rate is not increasing and the problems we have encountered with drugs in our youth have not gotten any worse thanks to the good efforts of Police Chief- Justin Dusseau and other officers assigned to Kuna.  At this time, the council is not considering a change, but we will again look at the costs and pros and cons of creating our own force vs contracting with the sheriff.  We also continued our contract with the Ada County Prosecutor to prosecute Kuna city code and misdemeanor violations. We are watchful of this contract too, but we are getting better reports on activity on our behalf from the Prosecutor so will again evaluate these costs vs hiring our own prosecutor.  This year the costs of the contract increased from $44,666.00 /year to $48,911 /year.  A 9.5% increase.

Economic Development is a priority for Kuna and our Ec. Development Committee includes the City of Kuna and Kuna’s Chamber of Commerce.  With the help of an Idaho Power grant, we were able to produce a beautiful Kuna brochure that includes all of the reasons and demographics of why you should want to locate in Kuna along with other marketing literature. We do have a number of businesses looking at us to locate here and a number of businesses that have committed to build in the spring.  We would like to welcome Dr. Doug Croft, who built a beautiful new Orthodontics building and this year moved into the new facility.  Ridley’s opened their new grocery store plus Ace Hardware in a very impressive building on Meridian Road, Falcon Ridge Charter school is constructing their new building and St. Alphonsus has opened their new clinic in Kuna. 

This year we will continue to push economic development for our community, for we have gone too many years without business development in Kuna.  Taxes are paid primarily by homes, whereas, a city our size should have about 40% of assessed taxes paid by businesses.  If we had a bigger business base, homes in Kuna would not be hammered as hard by taxation and it would make living a little more affordable. Economic Development will include a new industrial zone of 400 acres south of the railroad tracks and east of Cloverdale Road.  This site will be zoned and opened for recruitment in 2014 and will make Kuna more competitive for manufacturing entities to locate in Kuna City Limits. A recent plant that looked at that site employed 1500 people, so it is evident that an industrial site in the right location would help our city immeasurably with commerce and employment opportunities.

Another part of the economic development plan was to create a modern, informative and easy to navigate website, so that our own citizens as well as others could access our website and easily find out most of the important issues about us, including demographics, community events, taxes, recreation, schools, safety and amenities.  Our new website has been developed and is in growing use.  Our hope is that this site becomes the main source of information for our citizens as well as others wishing to know more about Kuna.  We feel the site is fulfilling the need and is meeting our expectations so we look forward to continued growth in 2014. 

One of our promises to our citizens was that we would remove utility billing from Caldwell and bill out of Kuna.  This has been a step by step approach to make sure that the process was handled smoothly and did not lead to problems either in the billing or paying of utilities.  The switch has still not been made, for even though we moved personnel to handle the change, the software allowing for consolidated billing of sewer, water, pressurized irrigation and trash proved problematical and has required much more software preparation than we would have guessed.   We are again hopeful we will make the switch this year and that the new system will be better and less expensive than continuing to bill out of Caldwell.  

This past year our Seniors reported that there were problems, some disputes and membership challenges at the Senior Center.  Fortunately this has now stopped.  We have not replaced the Staff Coordinator, for the Center seems to run better without a Coordinator.  The center has returned to a place to gather, eat a good meal and enjoy the company and comradeship of Kuna’s elders.   We are very pleased with the transition back to normal and thank Teri McIntyre for her great leadership in solving the problems at the Center.

The Gateway West transmission line issue was not resolved in 2013, although the route of the line from Wyoming to Southwest Idaho was set, the 2 lines routing to the Hemingway Station were not set because of the controversy generated by Kuna over the 500kv line passing through Kuna’s south city limits and by Owyhee County over the line going through critical Sage Grouse habitat and private property in that county.  The BLM created a sub-committee to make recommendations for the location of both lines and these recommendations will go to the full RAC (Resource Advisory Committee) for approval and then to the BLM for adoption.  Kuna’s Mayor is appointed to the committee. The process will be completed sometime in 2014 and the final location of the line could have a profound effect on Kuna.  If it were located in Kuna’s city limits it would effectively stop any development in the southern part of our city for the line consists of 150 to 180 foot towers and large highly charged lines that no one would want to live under. Hopefully the final route selected will not adversely affect Kuna.

This past spring with help from Kuna’s Little League, the Parks & Recreation Department completed building a snack bar at the city ball fields and erected a flag pole that really improved the looks and serviceability of the City Ball Fields.

A lot of brush and weeds along Indian Creek were removed and new benches and tables were installed along the greenbelt.  The Indian Creek Greenbelt is becoming a major city attraction and more of it will be completed this year.  We also began the process to protect our youth from cigarette smoke.  This past year we banned smoking in areas where children congregate or play in our parks and greenbelts.  We improved safety by offering a bike, skateboard and scooter competition hosted by Kuna’s city personnel, in coordination with a safety day hosted by Kuna and Kuna’s Ada County Sheriff personnel and Kuna’s Fire Department personnel.  The event was well attended and it will be repeated each year.

This past year ACHD was very busy in helping Kuna with a downtown automobile circulation project, conducting hearings on improving traffic flow on Linder and Deer Flat, and progressing on a plan to construct an overpass across Indian Creek and Union Pacific Railroad.   Recommendations were made but not all finalized in 2013 and this year the city will make the decisions on proceeding ahead. Site selected for the overpass was Swan Falls Road.  With the recent recession in mind, decisions on spending big dollars are certainly not easy and will require due caution.

Kuna’s Boy Scout Troops and Eagle Scout candidates have been a great help to the city this year for they have built Burrowing Owl Nests, erected safety crossing flags at dangerous intersections, moved wild plum trees along Indian creek and helped prepare the new section of the greenbelt for construction of paths and picnic spots.  They have become a very vital part of city improvement as we grow and mature. 

2013 marked the first time Kuna has ventured into community gardening.   A building lot the city owns across from city hall was chosen as our garden site and under the good leadership of Bobby Withrow and with help from Bob Bachman and Natalie Purkey, the lot was cleared and irrigation lines were added. Bob Merrick built and donated 25 raised gardens, Pat Reed made a very attractive and functional storage shed for use in the garden and compost was donated by Lou Murgoitio and Sam Johnston.  Seeds were donated by the Idaho State Seed Lab and tomatoes and a large assortment of peppers were started and grown by the Ag Department of Kuna High School in their Greenhouse. About 25 people planted gardens and a bountiful harvest was produced.   Everyone enjoyed the community garden and this year we are planning a bigger garden to teach our kids how to grow and enjoy vegetables as well as continuing to use the garden plots across from city hall. This year we have a grant from Union Pacific Railroad to help convert 3 acres across from Indian Creek School to a garden and tree nursery not only to teach gardening but to help stop a dangerous and major trespass route across the  Union Pacific tracks in that area.

In 2013 Kuna appointed a bicycle path committee to work with the city and ACHD to expand our bike paths and trails as well as make them contiguous with other bike paths in the city and county.  ACHD began placing signage in the city along bike paths for the public to know their location at the sign and how far it was to schools and other major destinations in the city.  The signs are very popular and help the bike traveler know just where they are in Kuna.  We began working with BLM and ACHD to expand the bike path and trails to Kuna Butte and to Initial Point.  This year we expect to have a spring clean up in the area and begin the trail work.

The city is expanding the Indian Creek greenbelt this year and will construct bike paths and trails from Swan Falls Road to Orchard Street.  This will be a historic part of the city for it was in 1864 that the Silver Trail crossed Indian creek at this site and it also was the site of the 15 mile station/house where stages and wagon trains between Silver City and Boise/Idaho City could stop for a good meal, fresh horses and rest before traveling on.  We intend to plant garden plots with flora that would have been seen in 1864 and will mark with kiosks the location of the Silver Trail crossing and 15 mile station. In addition a kiosk will be erected near the Swan Falls Bridge locating the site of Kuna’s former Train Depot

With grant writing training for Chris Engels, Kuna has once again prioritized obtaining grants to help us with our goals of improving the city.  We are proud to announce that we have secured over $262,000 in grants since May 2013 and have applied for many more.   We will continue with these efforts, for we believe that grants offer a great way to accomplish much needed projects to improve Kuna without having to increase taxes.

This year we will be modernizing and beautifying the SW entrance into Kuna.  I have lived here for over 50 years and Bridge Street looks the same as it did when I arrived.  With the help of ACHD, Bridge street will have sidewalks, the Shortline/Bridge Streets intersection alignment will be improved, the bridge itself will be beautified and the right turn from Main to Bridge will be improved.  Kuna will finish the greenbelt at that site and this entire entrance will finally look nice as you enter Kuna from the West.

2014 not only is Kuna’s 150th Anniversary, but it is also the “year of the Kuna kids”.  This year we will be putting a recreation district together to provide monies to run a community swimming pool and support a complex including a Boys & Girls Club and YMCA.  In addition we will be trying to build a 20 acre sports complex at the same site so that football fields, baseball fields and soccer fields will be available for use by our kids.  This is an exciting project and 2014 will be an exciting year.  Finally, Kuna is offering a solution to that long standing complaint that our kids have nothing to do in Kuna and get in trouble because of it. 

We started the process in 2013 and this year we intend to bring the idea to the voters and get on with becoming a modern, larger city with solutions to our problems.  Kuna Schools are expanding their very successful after school programs, the city is expanding its Parks and Recreation Dept. to offer classes and training and the community has walking clubs and other events springing up to interest our families. 

Kuna has been very successful in getting grants to help us achieve success and one of our recent grants is the $150,000.00 High Five Grant from Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation that will help provide our youth with incentives to become better, both physically and mentally as they challenge the future.  Look around Kuna, businesses are growing, schools are growing, housing is growing and our community is facing our future by providing the best we can for all of our citizens and especially our youth.  Kuna is still the youngest city in Idaho with nearly 40% of our population under 20 years of age, so youth is a big part of our community.  This past year we painted the city water tower and with the help of the Kuna Student Body put a Kavemen “K” on the tower.  This was done as a lasting symbol to show we love this town, we love our kids and we are proud to be KUNA.

It has been my privilege to serve as Mayor for the past 2 years in preparation of a bright future.  2014 will bring a great year of achievement in Kuna.  Our course is set, our resolve is high and we are on our way.  The future is now.  Join us in celebrating and experiencing it.

 

 

Greg Nelson, Mayor

2013

State of the City

W. Greg Nelson, Mayor

February 21, 2013

Our first year review

We concluded getting Kuna into a better position would be a step by step process that would build on each step so that in the end, we could accomplish our major goals.  So how did we do in our first year?

For various reasons Kuna’s reputation was clouded so that before we could begin the effort to improve the city and solve major problems, we had to normalize our relations with Meridian, Nampa, Ada County Commissioners, and Ada County Highway District.  We have taken care of that and are getting along well with those cities and officials. 

Our biggest problem was the new Sewer Plant and how it was funded.  The LID (Local Improvement District) was passed when land values were reaching $70,000 per acre, but no one had anticipated a major drop in land values, or a recession or the speed with which everything changed in the entire nation.  Land values in Kuna dropped to around $5,000/acre while the LID added $11,000 per acre on top of the land value.  No one would buy such land and few owners could afford to pay off the $11,000 per acre assessment.  Things in Kuna ground to a halt and LID landowners joined together to sue the city and the involved banks to try to protect against having their land confiscated for non-payment of the LID assessment.  This process was about 2 years old when we began working on it.

We hired Carter Frolich (Development Planning & Financing Group, Inc.), an expert on sewer financing to create an RFP (Request for Proposal) to sell the plant.  This would establish an industry accepted value for the plant or could even lead to a sale of the plant.  No matter how we resolved the issue, we needed the value of the plant.

We then began a search for funding that would help us re-finance the sewer plant.  All state and federal agencies were contacted and invited to attend a meeting at the plant, and one by one our request for financing was turned down by all agencies and we were left on our own to negotiate whatever settlement we could with the litigants and banks.

This process took about a year, but on February 13th 2013 the final touches were put on the agreement that settled the issue.  Results are that the litigants are no longer a part of the LID; the bank owns most of the hookups and people who havepaid the assessment are free and clear to sell their hookups to whoever wants to buy them.  The city owns the sewer plant and most people may now sell their land for its land value and the LID assessment is removed.

 

This issue is the most costly problem Kuna has ever faced and its settlement will again spur an upbeat in development in Kuna.

 

Another problem surfaced at the Senior Center.  It seemed as though disputes had led to decreasing membership and considerable dissent among the seniors.  Evaluation pointed to a lack of trust and some animosity toward the staff coordinator so the coordinator resigned, new officers were elected and the atmosphere returned to normal.

 

Since we were under an already adopted budget, it was difficult to start anything new that required dollars.  One thing promised was that we would take a look at the Sheriff’s contract and begin the process of evaluating whether Kuna would be better off starting our own police dept. or staying with the Ada County Sheriff. 

 

The sheriff requested that the budget increase by 15% for staff and by 17% for the Sheriff himself.  With a strapped budget, we felt this was not the right time to consider creating our own police force and in addition the majority of the council did not want to consider creating our own police force.  It was decided to stay with the sheriff contract.  Currently that contract is approaching $1.5 million.

 

The next hurdle was to approve the boys and girls club building.  This approval had been held up for over 5 years by the city and the Directors of the Club and the former P&Z administrator could not seem to resolve the issue.  The club is now approved and is fundraising to build the club building.

 

It was determined Kuna had to improve Economic Development in the community and make it a priority. In keeping with that the city joined with the Chamber’s Economic Development committee and began the process of creating a pamphlet that could be distributed to interested parties so that Kuna’s demographics and strengths could be easily identified in the publication.

 

The pamphlet is now in its final phases with the help of Lisa Bachman and we expect that it will be finished by the end of the month.  It will definitely help in recruitment.

 

Another vital role of improving Economic Development was to re-vamp the planning and zoning rules to make them more business friendly and easier to comply with.  A committee was appointed which reviewed the entire P&Z rules and regulations and the council has now adopted better and more reasonable P&Z rules and regulations.

 

The 3rd leg of Economic Development was and is to create an attractive and informative website that  anyone could access and navigate to review our city, check out amenities, look at demographics , assess community events, look at schools , library, fire and police  as well as transportation, utilities, taxes and recreation to learn if they were interested in our city. Currently the process is in progress with CGI finishing up the video portion of the website and consultants working on a modern and dynamic site that is user friendly and vitally important to our citizens and others wanting information.

 

Another promise to the city was that the billing for utilities would be removed from Caldwell and once again sent out by staff here in Kuna.  Here again a step by step approach was needed before we actually could bill out of Kuna.  Our plans are to modernize the software utilized by the city to consolidate all billing on one bill so that sewer, water, trash and pressurized irrigation would be consolidated in one bill.  We also will include a process for level pay on irrigation and give a discount for those that pay utilities on line.  Billing will be consolidated in city hall and removed from the north wastewater treatment plant.  City hall will be remodeled so that all billing will be on the west side of the main entrance into city hall and the city clerk and other functions of city operation will be on the east side of the main entrance into city hall.  That work is now in progress.

 

Our goal is to provide what has been identified nationally as the top 5 services requested by city residents throughout the nation and they are:

       1. Prompt response to Service Requests

       2. Municipal website that is easy to navigate

       3. Online Payment options

       4. Online Calendar

       5. Text alerts about emergencies or local events.

 

Since we were all embarrassed by the problems created when a community garden was considered 2 years ago, the city has been working to create a community garden on west Avalon right across from city hall.  The city will provide the land and water, the schools will germinate seeds for transplanting and classes will soon begin on Thursday nights to teach the public proper gardening technique. Currently 30 people have signed up to participate.

 

Classes will be taught by the extension service and master gardeners from the Kuna area. Come join us as we learn the process of running a community garden.

 

We have been under pretty severe budget restraints for the past 5-6 years.  This fiscal we were only able to meet the sheriff requirements before running out of revenue and this made it so that most projects were either put on hold or funded through private partners or grants to fulfill community needs.  We are hopeful with the LID settlement and indications of renewed growth that the future will be a much better one.

 

2014 will be Kuna’s 150th anniversary.  It was in 1864 that the Fifteen-Mile Station was built and became a major stop for Stages and Wagon Trains from Boise to Silver City.  In anticipation of this event in August of 2014 a number of projects are being worked.  The first is to extend Kuna’s greenbelt ¼ mile from Swan Falls Road to Orchard Street.  This portion of the greenbelt will be naturalized with flora that a traveler might have seen when they crossed Indian Creek in 1864.  Kuna’s 5th grade students will help research plants and will assist in planting.  A trail will be put from Orchard St. to connect with the bike path at the Swan Falls Bridge.  A kiosk will be built identifying the Silver Trail Crossing and the 15 mile station so that visitors will read of the importance of the trail and the 15 mile station.  Native plants will also be identified so that visitors can have an appreciation of what Kuna must have looked like in 1864.

Another part will be completing the greenbelt at Bridge Street, beautifying the curve from West Avalon to the main Kuna Bridge and improving the looks of the parking area serving the BMX track.

On the east side of town with the annexation of the Nicholson property, the Curve is being studied for removal and a 4 way stop considered at that site. The road coming into town would then become available for Commercial Development from the stop right on downtown.  The Kuna side of the proposed stop would have Welcome and Birds of Prey information.

Highway 69 and Deer Flat road will have a commercial development on the South side of Deer flat.  It will include a right in and right out from Highway 69 into the commercial complex as well as an entrance from Deer flat.  This is the site where Ridley’s and McDonalds are interested in locating.

We do need to decide on purchasing a city hall.  We have asked for Tim Gordon to make an offer on the building we are in.  We considered the Old High School Gymnasium but could not swing the finances right now so we would like to purchase a building so that all of our rent money isn’t simply lost to us.  If we can eventually own our building it will improve our chances of affording a building of choice as we progress into the future.  In any case we need to enlarge the History museum and get it into a heated building so that we really can preserve our history.  Either our current building or the Old Gymnasium school site would work.

Finally the question is being asked when will the roundabout at Deer Flat and Linder be put in.   It should begin this year for the money is there now to accomplish it. 

2nd the roundabout at main and Linder will be the next one put in, but it is sometime in the future and

3rd When will ACHD advise us as to the route that is approved for crossing Indian Creek and the railroad.  Consultants have been hired and should make a recommendation on the preferred crossing this summer. 

4th When will the Interchange at Meridian close interstate access to I-84?  Construction will begin in early 2014.

 The city has been working for 3 years to recommend the siting of the Gateway West 500kv electrical line that improves the northwest grid.  Recently the BLM changed the preferred route from the northernmost part of the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey Natural Conservation Area to a route that takes the line through Kuna Suburbs.  This is totally unacceptable to us and has led to many appeals for returning the route back to the Birds of Prey Natural Area. BLM has not finalized the EIS, so the route is still not set.  Should the line move through Kuna suburbs the cost in lost development would be tremendous. 

In reviewing 2012 Kuna held its own.

The total 2012 budget was $12,331,321 compared to 2011 at $ 13,295,666 or approximately a 7.25% drop in expenditures. The city’s general fund increased from $2,744,042 to 2,749,666 or approximately a .02% increase.

The City population increased to 15,650 approximately 140 people over 2011

In 2012 Total employees in the city were 31 plus 5 elected officials.

In 2011 Total employees were 30 plus 5 elected officials so city employees increased by one.  As a comparison, Mountain Home has 46 employees and this does not include 2 in economic development, 3 in recreation, 4 in animal control etc.  The 46 includes those jobs that are in the same areas that Kuna has jobs.

The Kuna police force consists of 14 employees plus 3 associated SROs (School Resource officers) the city police budget increased by $142,977.  An 11.18% increase.  This is fiscal 2011-2012 compared to fiscal 2012-2013.

We issued 47 business licenses in 2012 and 41 in 2011 – a 14.6% increase

In 2012 Well # 10 was completed and added 1700 gpm to the drinking water system.  This will serve the northeast section of Kuna and provide capacity for 1400 homes.

In 2012 we issued 106 building permits compared to issuing 59 permits

in 2011.  This is an 80 % increase from 2011.

The above figures indicate we are slowly pulling out of the recession. For comparisons, this year we surpassed Mountain Home in population but according to their demographics we have 15 less employees than they do and looking around the state, most cities in our population range had at least double the employees that we have so it is factual that we are running a pretty frugal system, but we worry that we may be overloading our staff

Finally, in assessing how we are doing I would say O.K. 

A better budget would help us immeasurably, but that is why we are pursuing economic development.  Economic development and expansion is what would really help us and spur a resurgence of Kuna.  We are confident this will begin in the near future.  Fortunately we have a fine city crew that is dedicated to the city and fully behind our efforts to improve city services and spur city growth and development.  We have a good City Council, fine churches, great schools, exceptional fire district, proactive police dept. and a supportive business community so that we are poised for a future that we all will be proud of.  2013 will be a good year for us.

Greg Nelson, Mayor